The journey of The “Lastdrager”

In 2014, I visited Steinweg and spoke to Ulf Boll about the beautiful statue of ‘De Lastdrager’ (The Load Bearer). Ulf Boll spontaneously offered to make a replica and donate it to the city. It still fills me with joy whenever I see it standing next to the New Luxor Theatre. Undoubtedly, Steinweg had good reasons to relocate the original. But some statues have a home base and are rooted in the ground they first stood on. That is certainly true for the The Lastdrager. The statue’s first home was on the facade of warehouse De Eersteling, at the Rijnhaven. How many Rotterdam subway travelers have looked the statue in the eye, trip after trip?

The  “Lastdrager” is synonymous with the Rijnhaven. Just like other parts of the port, this area was destroyed during the second world war and subsequently rebuilt with numerous new installations and modern warehouses. The Lastdrager was first unveiled five years after the war and it symbolises the reconstruction of the city. To this day the Rijnhaven area continues to  develop with port activity being transformed into urban vibrancy, byway of the creation of a district where people want to live, do their shopping and go to bars.

More and more people love to take a stroll along the Rijnhaven: starting at the Wilhelminapier, crossing the Rijnhaven bridge, through Katendrecht, making their way back along the quayside. Enroute, they come across the Lastdrager. Situated between all the high buildings, on one of those windy corners that are iconic to Rotterdam, it makes you pause to think about all those hard workers who have made the port what it is today, who have built our city. The Lastdrager is a heroic symbol of the port.

It tells us we can overcome any challenge we that we are faced with, so long as we work together, and in this modern day there is ’s no shortage of challenges. For example, take the urgency of the energy transition, everyone can see the effects of climate change with their own eyes. Looking away is no longer an option. In 2030, 50 percent of Dutch energy supplies should be sourced sustainably.

If we fail to act, we risk rain and floods damaging our land and houses, as well as food and water scarcity across the globe. The port of Rotterdam has formulated three steps for this transition. Firstly, we need to reuse residual heat and store CO2 at the bottom of the North Sea. Secondly, the industrial sector will transition to green hydrogen. Lastly, we will replace fossil fuels with sustainable energy sources.

C. Steinweg – Handelsveem B.V is one of the biggest terminal operater companies in the port of Rotterdam and for 175 years it has been a much appreciated partner for its clients, the city and the port. That appreciation is the not just the result of the company’s keen eye for business, but also the care Steinweg has for its people and its roots in Rotterdam. Donating a replica of the the Lastdrager to the city is a perfect example of that. This port “hero” carried a heavy load on its shoulders and the port heroes of the future now carry a bag filled with tools to work towards a sustainable economy for the city and port. Steinweg supports these heroes and will continue to do so for the next 175 years.

Congratulations on this beautiful anniversary!

Ahmed Aboutaleb
Mayor of Rotterdam